No cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in Laos, according to Lao Minister of Health, Professor Bounkong Sihavong who spoke at a press conference yesterday.
The minister responded to rumors spreading on social media regarding a patient under treatment in Vientiane as simply untrue.
“There has so far been no confirmation of any patients infected with the new coronavirus in Laos,” said Minister Bounkong. “Suspected cases have all proved negative.”
Although a sick Chinese national and her child arrived in Laos on January 20 from Wuhan, in Hubei Province, China, her illness tested negative for the new virus originating in Wuhan. The mother and child remain under observation.
Lao social media has been inundated with fake news in recent days after claims were made that a patent was undergoing treatment for the new Coronavirus at Vientiane’s “150 Bed” Mittaphab Hospital.
The government of Laos has tightened screening and quarantine measures at all its borders, with entry to Bokeo’s Golden Triangle region temporarily closing its borders to citizens of China and Myanmar.
Minister Bounkong did say that screening was difficult, as the equipment used to monitor the temperatures of foreign visitors upon arrival would not detect anyone in the early stages of the virus who would likely not show symptoms.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indicators of coronavirus infection may include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, or death.
The WHO recommends frequent handwashing, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and thoroughly cooking meat or poultry products.
The Lao government has set up a hotline, 166, for those wanting information about the virus, as the government attempts to stop the spread of fake news.
Thailand has confirmed eight cases over the virus, while Vietnam has detected two cases, and Cambodia has reported its first case overnight.